A natural selection

Bill Bailey the obvious choice for nature documentary

Animal-loving Bill Bailey is to present a BBC documentary about pioneering naturalist Alfred Wallace.

The comic has spent two months filming the show in Borneo and Indonesia, and the show is set to go out later this year, to mark the centenary of the scientist’s death.

Wallace was a contemporary of Charles Darwin’s who independently came up with a theory of natural selection at the same time. The pair jointly published papers on the subject, and remained friends.

The comic has previously performed stand-up based on the naturalist and last year became a patron of the Wallace Memorial Fund.

Bailey has perviously said: ‘Wallace has sort of been eased out of history, finessed out of the picture. It's a class thing as much as anything else. Darwin came from a wealthy family, but Wallace had no background and no money and needed to make a crust, mostly - and bizarrely - by shooting lots of animals.’

And of his new two-part series, he told the Mirror: ‘It was a pure passion project.

‘I’ve been very fortunate. I managed to fit in a lot in the last few years. But writing comedy is what gets me up in the morning.’

Bailey has previously fronted the ITV wildlife mini-series Baboons With Bill Bailey and Sky1’s Bill Bailey's Big Bird Watch.

And tomorrow he will unveil an oil painting of Wallace in the central hall of London’s National History Museum. It previously hung in the same spot, near the Darwin statue, from 1923 to 1973. Bailey and the rest of the Wallace Memorial Fund are trying to erect a statue to the scientist at the museum, but have so far raised only £19,000 of the £50,000 needed – enough for a bust.

Published: 7 Jan 2013

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